Harold Hamm, a pioneer in the oil and gas industry, notes the importance of energy independence to national security, especially as it relates to China and Russia.
“It should be obvious now with this last example how important our national security is, and energy independence gives us that, and we can’t fritter that away,” Hamm said Wednesday, referring to Russia’s effort to halt energy supplies to European nations.
“China has their own deal. Their deal is not your deal. This is a communist country,” he continued. “Let me tell you: They are steeped in communism. It is not a democracy at all. Those people are oppressed.”
Hamm is the executive chairman of Continental Resources, a company he founded at age 21 in 1967. On Monday, Hamm’s book “Game Changer: Our 50-Year Mission to Secure America’s Energy Independence” was released and was No. 1 in three categories on Amazon by Wednesday.
The book tells the story of how Continental Resources pioneered the rare technology of horizontal drilling, which allows drilling at an angle other than vertical to hit targets that can’t be reached vertically.
It helped domestic energy production soar and put the United States on the path to energy independence.
Hamm discussed his book and several energy- and entrepreneurship-related issues with Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts on Wednesday and took audience questions. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
During the discussion, Roberts brought up the importance of U.S. energy production and exports around the world, explaining that “new innovation has really contributed to alleviating what we call ‘energy poverty.’”
Hamm explained that horizontal drilling took trial and error with a largely untested method, but it paid off.
“Particularly on the oil side, we’ve been able to get away from dependence on the Middle East almost entirely due to what we are producing,” he said. “And on the natural gas side, even more so, we’ve become almost awash with natural gas. Then, the third part of that is, all of the [liquefied natural gas] that was the result of all of the natural gas. Last winter, it would have gotten probably real cold once the Ukraine invasion happened by Russia, and Russia cut off the supplies to Europe, had it not been for LNG supplies that the U.S. was able to ship.”
Roberts noted there is a lesson from the story that speaks of American innovation that can be applied to any other industry.
“One of the things that it seems as if—culturally, socially, maybe also especially in terms of policy—we’ve gotten away from in the United States is understanding the importance of innovation from individuals, from individual companies, the amount of capital that takes to make that work, because of the trial and error—especially in your business,” Roberts said. “And also that, sometimes, you’re going to fail, and that’s the cost of risk.”
Hamm said that horizontal drilling was widely seen initially as a long shot and a money pit.
“It was just a game changer. Nobody even wanted to participate in it at first,” he said. “They thought it was a money pit. I wondered if it was, when we began. But it turned out it was a wonderful story. It takes 10 years, but we tripled American oil and gas production.”
He said that he had hoped someone would tell the story, but no one did, so he wrote the book.
“It wasn’t fashionable to be doing what we were doing. It took some time to realize we were getting better at it and make this work,” he said. “We started out drilling 1,000 feet. Pretty soon we were drilling 2,500 feet. Pretty soon we could drill a mile. Pretty soon we could drill 2 miles. All the time, the economics were changing. We were getting better at what we did.”
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